Google this week opened its new 1.1 million-square foot Bay View campus outside Mountain View as the company begins its transition to hybrid working.
The company cut the ribbon on its new sustainably designed, futuristic campus on Tuesday. It's the first major campus Google has developed and will support 4,000 employees from the Bay Area.
It will also test whether the office is appealing enough for staff as it ushers in its hybrid work experiment. Google in March told employees, including those from the Bay Area, that most of them are expected to return to the office for about three days a week from April 4.
SEE: Remote work vs office life: Lots of experiments and no easy answers
Google says the new campus was designed with an emphasis on "prioritizing the experience of the people in the building over the exterior form."
"After talking to Googlers about what they need from a workplace, we found that they're happy, productive and creative when they come together in teams, but need spaces that are buffered from sound and movement to get deep-focus work done," David Radcliffe, Google's vice president or real estate and workplace services, says in a blogpost.
Radcliffe says the design includes team spaces on the upper level and gathering spaces on the canopy-covered second floor to separate focus and collaboration areas.
"The upper floor is broken down into smaller neighborhoods separated by courtyards and connected via ramps that gradually rise as you move to the center of the building. This variation in the floor plate gives teams a designated area that changes with their needs, while keeping them close to their larger work community," explains Radcliffe.
The new campus uses so-called "dragonscale solar skin" on the pavilion-inspired canopy. Nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time, according to Google.
There are two kitchens serving seven cafes that are powered by electricity rather than gas. The campus also sports 17.3 acres of natural areas, including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh. The water retention ponds collect water for reuse and provide a nature restoration area. Meanwhile, an integrated geothermal pule system is used to heat and cool the campus.
Google began construction of the Bay View complex in 2017, which is located at NASA Ames. Google is also building another campus in Mountain View, dubbed the Charleston East project.
Per Palo Alto Online, the campus features themed areas or "districts," including the "Turkey Terrace" and tent-inspired "Campfire Corner" meeting rooms. Another is called Plankton Palace, featuring a light display on faux seaweed.
Google's return-to-office policy has created friction amongst some employees, with some reports that staff complained about the April 4 requirements and that Google is lowering pay for staff who move to lower-cost areas.
Others in Silicon Valley, like Airbnb's chief Brian Chesky, have said "the office as we know it, is over". He argues that the office today "has to do something a home can't do".